Landowner-tenant laws may be contributing to homelessness

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

Affordable Housing Project by Plan Bay Area photo by zrants

– While laws are supposed to protect, attorney James Cook told KTVU local landowner-tenant laws may be worsening the Bay Area’s housing crisis forcing more people into homelessness.

“Both landlords and tenants would say the current housing laws have contributed to at least the rental crisis,” he said. “If you talk to owners, they say it keeps small-time owners from renting to people because they want to rent out units for market rates because housing prices are so high. If you talk to tenants, they say the just law eviction laws do not protect them from unlawful evictions and they aren’t right.”

Cook said the Bay Area’s housing problem has grown at a speed for which many people and laws couldn’t have prepared. According to Cook, the Costa Hawkins Act originally made the law which determines control for rent control and when you can evict someone under rent control and what type of housing qualifies under rent control. Just Cause eviction laws determine the circumstances under which someone can evict a tenant… (more)

Some words of wisdom coming out of this conversation about homelessness. We need to balance the powers between the landlords and tenants with an eye toward fairness for all. The current laws pitch landlords against tenants and we agree they are largely in need of an overhaul.

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Houses over Bernal gas pipeline delayed again

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

bernalview

Bernal Heights view photo by zrants

Ronen points out that we can’t trust PG&E to ensure that a 36-year-old high-pressure gas pipe won’t blow up

The City Planning Department will have to do additional research on the chance that a pipeline under Bernal Hill could explode during the construction of two houses, the Board of Supes decided today.

The issue has been back and forth between the board and city planners for  years, mostly because the Planning can’t seem to figure out its own rules around environmental review..

The pipeline is one of the few in the city that isn’t buried under a street. The city doesn’t even know at this point how deep the earth above the pipeline is — 24 inches? Or 36 inches? Not clear.

The pipeline has never been fully examined for the sort of potential flaws that destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno.

Justin Horner, a city planning staffer, said that “inadvertent affects that could be caused by negligence are not part of the [environmental review] process.

Which is why the city has argued that a full environmental study isn’t needed… (more)

Thankfully someone is paying attention. The last thing we need is to blow up another neighborhood in our haste to “build more housing.” Residents have been voicing concerns about this pipe for years. Neighbors will be relived to know someone has come to their senses. There is a general problem with an environmental review program that does not take into account the actual natural environment that is existing in determining how the project under review will effect that natural existing situation. A hearing is needed to clarify where and how such matters as seismic conditions and flood plains are taken into account in the building permit process, which is where, we understand this sort of issue is supposedly taken up. Please announce this hearing to the broadest audience possible and please cover this in the media regardless of how many other events occur on that day.

Strangest thing: Some agreement in SF housing debate

Special by Joel Engardio : sfexaminer – excerpt

Not-so-odd Couple: SPUR director Christine Johnson, left, and Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods president George Wooding are supposed to represent opposite sides of the housing debate, but they agree on more issues than anyone expected.

In the simple version of San Francisco’s housing crisis, two giant generations are fighting over limited space in a peninsula city that isn’t configured to fit both.

Baby boomers bought up scarce housing decades ago, created their own piece of paradise and worked to preserve low-density neighborhoods by resisting new development. Now, there’s no room for millennials, who want to reshape San Francisco into a denser and less car-centric city.

The boomers won’t yield quietly.

“Neighborhood character is the hill I will die on,” said George Wooding, 61, president of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. “As more height and density becomes the norm, we’ll start to look like the row houses of St. Petersburg, Russia. There is a beauty to San Francisco worth saving.”

But millennials see preservation as a losing prospect…

Wooding and Johnson lead very different constituencies in the debate over what San Francisco should look like and who should live here. Yet, their personal views are less simplistic than their public roles suggest…

“We want the same thing — a city that’s livable and comfortable — but we have different ways to get there,” Wooding said…

CARROTS OR STICKS?

San Francisco has an unknown number of vacant units that add to the housing crunch. Some people fear renting out empty space in their homes. Strict tenant protections can make it difficult to reclaim the unit when the owner needs it for an aging parent or adult child.

Wooding supports giving skittish homeowners an incentive to rent to longer-term tenants and not just Airbnb tourists.

“I believe in rent control, and we can create a new option just for those empty units: a three-year contract with an escape clause at the end,” Wooding said. “There is great potential in older people sharing their larger homes.”

Johnson said a tax abatement program would be the right carrot to encourage people to open their homes to renters. She also backs a stick approach that would tax vacant units… (more) 

CLARIFICATION BY GEORGE WOODING: “Yet Wooding, who lives on the Westside, remained firmly opposed to new construction that encroaches on single family housing, RH-2 and RH-3 housing.”

 

Funding for Affordable Housing Headed for Vote in State Legislature

Host: Michael Krasny : kqed – excerpt (includes audio)
Guy Marzorati, reporter, KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk
Laura Foote Clark, executive director, Yimby Action
Tim Redmond, editor, 48 Hills.org
Fernando Marti, co-director, Council of Community Housing Organizations…

The California State legislature is set to vote on a package of affordable housing bills as early as this Friday. Among the bills is SB 35, which would streamline the approval process for development projects in cities that are not meeting regional affordable housing goals. Supporters of SB 35 say the measure is needed to tackle the state’s critical housing shortage. But opponents say the bill wrests control of housing policy from local governments and could actually make housing more expensive in low-income Bay Area neighborhoods. We take up the debate… Listen to the show here

RELATED:

Comments by Tim Redmond:

…SB 35, the Wiener bill that would promote more market-rate housing development in the mistaken belief that more luxury condos will bring housing prices down, will come to the Assembly floor any day now. Fernando Marti, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, and I were on KQED Forum Friday debating this bill with Laura Foote Clark, executive director of Yimby Action; you can listen to the show here

What I told Clark was that the whole premise of SB 35 is false. No housing gets built without financing, and most financing comes from investors who want the maximum rate of return. The private market right now will never build housing for the middle class. If you built so much that prices started to soften, that money would go elsewhere.

Much of the affordable housing that cities get comes from forcing developers into building more below-market units than they want. Take away that tool and you will get less affordable housing. Not surprisingly, the landlords and developers are among the biggest backers of this bill, and tenant and anti-eviction groups are against it(more)

Should we build lots more housing in San Francisco? Three reasons people disagree

by Julia Galef – excerpt

Some people, such as YIMBYs, advocate building lots more housing in San Francisco. Their basic argument is:

Housing in SF is the priciest in the country, with the average one bedroom apartment renting for over $3,000 per month (compared to the nationwide average of $1,200.)

The main reason rents are so high is because the supply of housing has been artificially restricted — new developments are constantly getting blocked by land use regulations and neighborhood associations. Meanwhile, demand to live in SF continues to rise. And since supply is not keeping pace, rents go up, as a growing number of would-be tenants outbid each other for the limited housing available.

Therefore, it’s important that we find a way to increase the rate at which we’re building new housing in SF, or it will be a city in which only the rich can afford to live.

I’ve been trying to understand why others are critical of this argument. I think there are three main areas of disagreement between what I’ll call the advocates and the critics, and I’ll briefly explain each in turn. (Note that I’m trying to present the strongest version of each argument, which may be different from the most common version.)… (more)

Bicyclists Boycott Bernal Businesses Seeking Removal Of Bike-Sharing Stations

by Todd Lappin :  hoodline – excerpt

photo by zrants

An effort by some merchants along Mission Street in Bernal Heights to seek the removal of a new Ford GoBike station on 29th Street triggered a strong response from local bicyclists, with some saying they plan to avoid businesses that oppose the bike-share program.

Last week, the Examiner reported that the MIssion-Bernal Merchants Association (MBMA) asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to immediately remove a new Ford GoBike station installed in front of the UPS Store at 60 29th Street between Tiffany and Mission.

Bernalwood has confirmed that MBMA also raised concerns about the new bike-share stations on Valencia at Cesar Chavez and in Precita Park, as all three stations fall within MBMA’s membership “blueprint area.”

The association claims it wasn’t properly notified about the installation of the new stations, with most merchants only learning about them when notices went up a few days before installation began.

At least one other Bernal neighborhood organization echoes the complaint about notification…

In a statement sent to Bernalwood, MBMA president Eden Stein and co-coordinator Ani Rivera said:

“MBMA’s request to SFMTA is to immediately remove/suspend the Ford Bike Share Program on 29th Street and a comprehensive analysis (study and survey) to be conducted to determine if the program is suitable, desired and safe in any future identified locations.  In addition, we also request that SFMTA include in its outreach MBMA’s input when decisions and designs are being made that will affect any aspect of the MBMA corridor.”… (more)

RELATED:
KQED broadcast a program on the Ford GoBikes and their affiliations with a public/private corporate arrangement that uses public funds and is backed by Ford to ensure this program will “succeed” whether or not it makes any money. The point is not to make money. The point is to remove public use of public property by selling or leasing it to private entities. Nobody asked the taxpaying voters if they want to sell or lease their rights to use public property.

Emergency Resolution needed to preserve San Francisco businesses

Op-Ed

Here is an idea. SF has carved out hundreds of miles of car-free lanes for bikes and pedestrian-safe zones with no regard to the losses of the businesses that are effected by loss of traffic and parking. The streetscape programs have resulted in huge numbers of business closures and what appears to be an average 30% drop in income of the businesses that survive. No one is talking about the loss of jobs or the flight of the families those jobs once supported.

Why don’t we support the rights of businesses that require traffic and parking by setting up a SFMTA-free enterprise zone, that protects businesses that rely on customers who drive. We need a parking-protected zone to protect businesses while their streets are under construction.

We have see the future as it is being written by Plan Bay Area 2040 and they are anticipating a loss of 40% of the middle class by 2030 or 2040, depending on which report you read. As they extend the debt they extend the time to pay it off and the year of the study changes to meet that goal

Perhaps the Supervisors could legislate a temporary protected zone for businesses to escape from the SFMTA while their streets are under siege with protected loading and parking zones for motor vehicles only. We could use one in China Town and pretty much every neighborhood, The Supervisors can treat it as an emergency resolution to save middle class families by saving the small businesses and jobs they depend on them that are being killed off by the over-zealous SFMTA and developers.

We understand there is a history of placing limitations on disruptive construction projects in one area to protect residents and businesses from the negative impacts of too much construction in one place. Perhaps it is time to revisit that limit. Why not finish the major street projects now underway before starting any new ones.

Perhaps it is time for the Board of Supervisors to devise some method for curtailing city agencies and reigning them. There is ample evidence that the departments are not working well together or communicating changes to large projects as they rush to get them underway.

Perhaps we need new procedural rules to protect our citizens like the CEQA administrative amendments that were enacted to help developers a few years ago. Others are suggesting some Charter amendments may be in order. That will take time. We need some faster protections and we need them now to stop the damage to is being done to our city in the name of future plans.

This was inspired by story on ABC7 News on the plight of Chinatown businesses:

Chinatown merchants say Central Subway construction leading to business bust

by Leslie Brinkley : ABC7news – excerpt (includes video)

Up to 2 million visitors stroll through Chinatown per year. Locals hit the markets in the area too, but lately business is down…. (more)

These stories all have one thing in common. The Future is heavily featured as the reason for the disruption we are living in today. Always the promise of a better tomorrow and know consideration of what is being done to make our lives better today. How can you trust a system that doesn’t function today to make tomorrow better? Let us see some proof. Fix it now.